Passages - February 26, 2009
From Spark To Flames

By Pr. Rod Kvamme
Seeley Lake

Wood loses its romance after 25 years.
We have been heating our home by burning wood through most of the winters we have lived here.
When we bought our land, it was desperately in need of being cleaned up. I remember calling a logger friend one year to bring his skidder up to remove slash piles I had made–54 of them and most of them required three trips to get them to the large clearing that Champion International allowed us to use for burning. There was a lot of timber not fit for the mill, but fine for burning.
I grew up in a “saveful” family, so I had to make use of any downed trees for fuel or put up with a guilty conscience (every Norwegian Lutheran from North Dakota is born with a guilty conscience that is hard to shake!).
For many a year, we would walk to the woodshed and get a warm feeling just by looking at the wood we had salvaged, cut into two-foot blocks, hauled out of the woods, split, piled in neat ricks, then brought into the house as needed, cleaned the glass doors on the fireplace so we and our company might enjoy watching the flames, but then let the flames die in order to get rid of the ashes and, in the spring, vacuum/dust beams and logs, book shelves and picture frames to rid the house of the fine ash that had floated around in search of a winter’s resting place.
Oh well, wood is a cozy, comfortable source of heat, but wood does lose its romance after 25 years, and a thermostat is an infectious little gadget.
Nevertheless, I am indebted to a wood fire for an enduring spiritual lesson. I have pondered that lesson many an early morning.
The fire has burned itself out through the night and looks absolutely dead, without the least live embers. But I use an old hair dryer to fan the wood, and it is worth the early rising to witness the wood fire come to life. It is especially exciting to be startled when a log bursts into flame and begets a roaring fire.
I see that and realize it is a visual aid helping me in my spiritual life. I may feel lifeless and without much excitement on the inside, but then something ignites my spirit, and new vigor, hope, and excitement about life warms and ignites me. That’s the Holy Spirit at work.
“From spark to flame” describes the Spirit of God working in individuals and congregations. I have found this to be true. I have seen it in an individual life where there has been only a flickering spark. But at a special moment, that person has been touched and brightened up by a new awareness of walking with Jesus and knowing his love.
I have also seen this in a group or congregation when ho-hum-business-as-usual routine has suddenly caught fire with a deep desire to be serving the Lord in a world that sorely needs him.
So though wood loses its romance after 25 years, it does, on the other hand, have much more to offer than only dust and ashes.

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